Facts & figures: Switzerland

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Switzerland: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: Eight

Best performance: Quarter-finalists in 1934, 1938, 1954

Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld. One of Europe's most successful and respected club coaches, having won the European Champions League with both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and a total of seven Bundesliga titles. Despite his successes, Hitzfeld was repeatedly overlooked by his native Germany and looked as if a World Cup would be missing from his CV until the Swiss came calling last year.

Key players:

Alex Frei (FC Basel) Age: 31. Forward

Switzerland's all-time leading scorer with 40 goals in 71 appearances. He played at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, however, he was injured during the first half of Switzerland's opening Euro 2008 match and missed the rest of the tournament. Adopted a llama after being found guilty of spitting at an opponent in 2004.

Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen) Age 24. Midfielder

Switzerland's most inventive midfielder, Barnetta made his impact at a young age when was in the team which won the under-17 European championship in 2002. He played in the 2006 team where he scored in the group game against Togo but missed in the second-round penalty shootout defeat to Ukraine.

Diego Benaglio (VfL Wolfsburg) Age: 26. Goalkeeper

Third-choice goalkeeper at the 2006 World Cup. Benaglio's career has come on in leaps and bounds since then. He helped his club to win the Bundesliga last season and has been the regular first-choice keeper since Euro 2008.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 18

How they qualified: South Africa looked a distant dream when Switzerland suffered a stunning 2-1 home defeat to Luxembourg in only their second game. However, they won their next five matches and clinched top spot in their group with a 0-0 draw at home to Israel.

Prospects: Switzerland went out of the 2006 World Cup without conceding a goal after losing on penalties in the second round to Ukraine following a 0-0 draw. Hitzfeld has moulded them into a competitive, if unspectacular team, and a repeat performance would appear to be the most realistic outcome.